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Do you have a better chance of winning the lottery quick pick or own numbers?

This is a question that many lottery players ask themselves when purchasing lottery tickets. Some swear by using the same set of numbers every time they play, believing that their carefully chosen numbers give them an edge. Others prefer to let the computer randomly generate quick pick numbers, believing this gives them just as good of a shot at winning.

In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of choosing your own numbers versus using quick picks for lottery games. We’ll look at the math behind both approaches and whether one statistically gives you better odds. We’ll also consider some of the psychological and logistical factors that can influence which option might be “luckier” for any individual player.

The Math Behind Lottery Number Selection

First, let’s look at the mathematical probabilities behind selecting lottery numbers, both by quick pick and manual selection. This will give us an objective sense of whether one approach has better odds.

Most lotteries are based on randomly drawing numbers from a fixed pool. For a game like Powerball, 5 regular numbers are drawn from a pool of 69 numbers, while the Powerball number is drawn from a separate pool of 26 numbers. The odds of any single number being drawn are the same, whether you pick that number specifically or let the quick pick randomizer choose it.

For a 6-number lottery like Powerball, the odds of winning the jackpot are calculated by multiplying together the odds of each number being drawn. This comes out to:

  • Odds of first number match: 1 in 69
  • Odds of second number match: 1 in 68
  • Odds of third number match: 1 in 67
  • Odds of fourth number match: 1 in 66
  • Odds of fifth number match: 1 in 65
  • Odds of Powerball match: 1 in 26

Multiplying those odds together gives us odds of 1 in 292,201,338 of winning the jackpot. Since the odds for each number are the same whether picked manually or by quick pick, your probability of winning is technically the same either way.

Probability with Duplicate Numbers

The one caveat is that with manual selection, you could potentially pick the same number twice accidentally. Quick pick avoids this by not using the same number twice when generating picks.

If you manually picked the same number twice, your odds would actually be slightly worse, since one of your opportunities to match is lost. But this effect is negligible for most lottery games.

Frequency of Number Selection

Some people believe that certain numbers are more likely to be drawn than others. They prefer to choose numbers based on frequency of past drawings.

It’s true that over a short sample, some numbers can appear more frequently than others in winning combinations. But mathematician and lotteries expert Dr. John Haigh has shown that in lottery draws over time, all numbers are likely to occur in roughly equal frequencies.

So while recent drawing results may show fluctuations, no number is inherently “luckier” or more likely to come up in the long-run.

Most Common Numbers Picked

A more relevant frequency effect is that of numbers commonly selected by multiple players. For games where tickets can share prizes, such as Mega Millions, avoiding popular numbers decreases the chance of having to split a jackpot.

The most commonly chosen Mega Millions numbers are:

1 2 3 4 5
7 10 20 30 40

So by choosing less popular numbers, your odds of splitting a prize are slightly reduced.

Odds of Multiple Winners

One other mathematical consideration with lottery number selection is the potential for multiple winners. Let’s compare the chances of multiple winners for quick picks versus manual number selection.

With quick pick, the randomization algorithm is designed to generate all number combinations with equal probability. Each quick pick number has no relationship to or influence on other quick pick numbers.

So for a particular draw, if 100,000 people play different quick pick numbers, the probability of multiple winners comes down to the probability of duplicating a 292 million to 1 long shot across those 100, 000 attempts. The odds of more than one winner in this scenario are still extremely small.

However, with manual number selection, people may gravitate towards certain combinations of numbers they perceive as lucky or meaningful, like a birthday.

If a popular choice of numbers is chosen by some subset of manual players, your odds of having to share increase versus quick pick where duplications of any given number set are less likely.

In Summary

The math shows manual number selection has an extremely small negative effect from potential duplicate number choices but a potential positive effect from avoiding popular picks. Quick picks have higher randomization. Neither has a clear mathematical advantage, with odds of winning incredibly similar.

Psychology and Superstitions

The mathematical odds may be virtually identical between quick picks and manual number selection, but human psychology and superstition also plays a role in lottery number choice.

Some studies have shown that lottery players tend to gravitate toward significant dates, like anniversaries and birthdays, when choosing numbers manually. This gives players a feeling of closer personal connection to those numbers.

However, it can also mean multiple people are guided toward the same numbers by the same dates. This can increase sharing of prizes when many players feel a special connection and choose the same meaningful numbers.

Quick pick numbers don’t have the same tendency to cluster around significant dates. While less emotionally meaningful, mathematically they do offer more unpredictability.

Illusion of Control

Psychologists talk about “illusion of control” – the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to influence random outcomes if they are actively participating in some way.

By carefully choosing their own numbers, players may feel like they have more control over the lottery outcome. In fact, the random nature means they have no actual influence, but the participation effect is strong.

Quick pick strips away that illusion of control which some may find psychologically harder to come to terms with.

Superstitions and Rituals

Finally, many players have superstitions and rituals around lottery number selection and play. Some examples include:

  • Using lucky numbers suggested by horoscopes or numerology
  • Always using the same numbers every draw
  • Only purchasing tickets on certain “lucky” days
  • Buying from stores where previous winners were sold
  • Using significant dates like birthdays

These superstitions seem to be more common with players choosing their own numbers rather than quick picks.

While not actually influencing probability, the rituals can make the experience more meaningful which may be an equal consideration for devoted players.

Logistics of Number Selection

There are also some practical logistics around lottery number selection worth considering.

Choosing your own numbers requires you to think through what digits you want each time you purchase a ticket. Quick pick is faster and easier when buying as it removes this step.

Some opt for quick picks to avoid the inconvenience of number selection at time of ticket purchase, especially when buying multiple tickets.

However, an advantage of choosing your own numbers is that it makes it easier to play consistently each time. With quick picks, you’d need to track which sets of numbers you played each time rather than just repeating your standard pick.

Record Keeping

If you want to maximize your odds by playing every possible drawing, manual number selection makes this administratively easier by removing the need to track each specific quick pick.

You also reduce the risk of accidentally playing duplicate sets of numbers, which can happen with quick picks.

However, some lottery apps and services can store your preferred numbers or quick pick history for you, removing this logistical difference.

Pool/Syndicate Playing

For playing in groups and lottery pools, quick picks can be easier since members don’t have to debate favorite numbers. Groups can simply purchase a set of quick picks rather than coordinating number selection.

However, for some, part of the fun of group play is analyzing numbers and jointly choosing sets with meaning to the group.

Examples of Real World Lottery Wins

To complement the statistical analysis, it’s helpful to look at some real world case studies of major lottery winners and whether their winning tickets were quick picks or manually chosen numbers.

Quick Pick Winners

Some of the biggest jackpots won on quick pick tickets include:

  • A Florida couple split a $538 million Powerball jackpot on a quick pick ticket in 2019.
  • A Wisconsin man won a $768 million Powerball prize with a quick pick ticket in 2019.
  • A group of 23 co-workers split a $447 million California Powerball jackpot in 2012 based on a quick pick ticket purchased by one member.

Based on these real wins, quick picks clearly do have the potential for huge jackpot wins.

Chosen Number Winners

At the same time, some of the biggest manual number selection winners include:

  • A South Carolina single mom won a $399 million Powerball jackpot in 2018 on a ticket where she chose her own numbers based on family birthdays.
  • A Massachusetts hospital worker won a $758 million Powerball prize in 2017 using numbers she had been playing for years.
  • A Tennessee couple split a $528 million Powerball jackpot in 2016 using the exact same numbers they had played for years.

These wins prove lucky numbers can pay off big too.

In Summary

Looking at real world wins, both quick picks and manual number selections have resulted in huge jackpot victories. So in practice, neither appears to have a significant advantage.

Final Verdict

Overall, a review of the math, psychology and real world cases shows no definitive advantage when comparing quick pick versus chosen numbers for winning the lottery. So which is better comes down to personal preference.

For those who enjoy the fun of analyzing numbers and seeing how they match against past draws, manual selection helps enhance this experience.

Quick pick works well for those who don’t want the hassle of choosing numbers themselves each time they play. The randomization may also appeal more to the mathematically minded.

Syndicates and groups may find quick picks simplify coordination. Individual ritual-driven players may favor their own meaningful numbers.

Statistically, either way of selecting has essentially equal odds. With jackpots starting in the hundreds of millions, even a tiny probability is worthwhile, whether picking your own numbers or letting the computer decide.

While the odds of winning are microscopically against you no matter how you play, the excitement and imaginative possibilities make the lottery entertaining. Better chance refers more to which option provides you the most enjoyable experience as a player rather than increased mathematical probability.

With the freedom to choose how you want to play, the lottery offers something for everyone. And you can’t win if you don’t have a ticket, so decide which selection method appeals most to you, play responsibly for fun, and hope some of that lottery magic lands on you!